Tag Archives: apple

Final Straw

There have been a lot of people weighing in on Apple’s update to Final Cut Pro.

In the grand scheme of things, this is hardy an earth shattering issue – it’s just software.

But if you use video editing software as part of your work as I do, it means having to make some decisions about the future investment in this particular software.

I’ve been editing for a long time. I actually remember the first time I cut a piece of audio tape and spliced it back together back at CKDM in Dauphin.  It was 1972.

I worked with some of the very first non-linear audio editing software packages – all of them flakey and buggy compared to what we have today.   I used pretty much every audio editing tool made until I settled on Pro Tools.

When I started editing video I was interested in desktop PC based solutions rather than the expensive production house alternatives. I started with Premiere on the PC, then switched to Final Cut Pro on the Mac.  All that to say that I’m an early adopter and look forward to using the latest, newest tools available to me.  And I’m willing to put up with a bit of uncertainty if the benefits outweigh the risks.

I’ve been using Final Cut for 6 or 7 years now. I like it very much.  Even my kids, in grades 8 and 11 , prefer to use Final Cut over iMovie for their school projects because sharing data is easier, and Final Cut provides the right kind of control over editing.

Like a lot of people, I have been looking forward to a long overdue update to Final Cut – mostly to improve speed and file management.   When Final Cut Pro X was finally unveiled this week, I was excited to discover they’ve made huge leaps in performance and really improved file management.

But I’m mightily disappointed.

Without getting any further into the debate, it simply is taking things in the wrong direction;  I can’t use my existing Final Cut projects with it, I can’t easily export audio for post production, and it’s taken too many of the control features out of my hands.

It’s possible that Apple will restore some of the things it has taken out of the software, but for me, this is simply a matter of making a decision based on my business needs.

Like any decision, I try to ‘read the signs’ to see where things are going.  All I have to go on is what Apple has done, and what it says it will do, with the software.

The signs aren’t good.

The two main issues for me are collaboration and backward compatibility.

Making it more difficult (or expensive) for me to export audio for post production is a major deal.  Because I’m an audio editor as well as a video editor, I always treat and master my audio in another program and then pull it back into Final Cut.  With the new version, in order to do that,  I’ll need a plug-in that itself costs twice as much as the Final Cut upgrade.  It’s more steps, more software, more money, more hassle.

Secondly, there’s the issue of backward compatibility.

This may seem like a small matter, but it’s huge.

Not being able to work with older content means keeping 2 versions of the software on my machine to ensure that I can work on older files down the road if I need to.  Eventually that need may disappear, but at least in the immediate future – say 2 or 3 years – it’s critical I am able to work on those old files.

So that means keeping both the old and new versions of Final Cut running. I’m generally trying to reduce the number of types of software I use, not increase it.

Having to maintain and manage 2 versions of the same software just to be able to do my work is annoying. Plus, none of the effects plugins I have bought and used over the years will work with the new version.

If I’m going to have to spend more money just to use the software in the way I want, and I’m going to have to manage 2 versions, then I need to seriously think about switching to something else.

Do I want to do that.  No.

Is it a good business decision ?  I think so.

Why ?

Here’s the thing – the signs for Final Cut look bad.  Sure Apple may make some changes over the next few months, but in the end, they’re taking the software somewhere that doesn’t really fit with my way of working.   That’s their business decision, they’ve made it pretty clear.  It’s up to me to decide what I want to do about that – not whine about how Apple has let me down (they don’t even know me…)

So what are my options.

I’ve thought about this a lot, and really the only option for me is  Avid’s Media Composer.

It’s a professional tool created primarily for professionals.  It’s used in broadcast and post-production houses around the world.  It isn’t as pretty to look at as Final Cut and it’s more expensive, but it’s rock solid.

What’s more important for me – the signs for the future look good.

Avid knows its market and knows its users.  They’re professional editors who use the software every day cutting for news and current affairs show, and editing full length features.  They aren’t trying to appeal to a larger video editing market – they’ve concentrated on making a solid tool for industry professionals.  And because they also make Pro Tools, the audio editing and mastering software I use, it just makes sense to switch.

And that’s what I’ve done – and am now in the process of learning how to use Media Composer (their help videos are fantastic).  We’re lucky here in Vancouver to have a store like Annex Pro – I was able to get set up in just a few hours and using the software the same day.

Media Composer on my desktop

Yes, I will still need to keep an old version of Final Cut running in order to work on old projects, but I was going to have to do that anyway.

Yes, I’m having to spend more money, but I was going to have to spend a fair bit just to upgrade Final Cut and then buy yet more plugins to make it do what I need, but never quite getting there.

Most importantly, for my business, I feel confident that 2 or 3 or 5 years from now, Avid will continue to be making the kind of product I need to do my work.   I just don’t have the same confidence in the direction Final Cut is going.

Liquid Sunshine

The day’s rain scented the neighbourhood with freshness impossible to duplicate. Grouse Mountain was nowhere to be seen, engulfed in a thick cloud that drifted down to the street and hung on the neighbourhood trees.

So I turned my lens on what was close at hand, fruit and flowers hanging on to the day’s raindrops.

Sadly, many of our neighbours had their automatic-in-ground sprinklers running.

Pie In Waiting

Some of my neighbours find it odd that I’ve got fruit trees in the front yard.

They seem to think that front yards are for golf-course-like-manicured-lawns that you pour water and chemicals on all summer, and heaven forbid you should walk or play on it.

Not sure they appreciate the tether-ball in the front yard either.

Guess they won’t be getting any pie.

Is Vancouver Genius Bar Challenged ?

I’m now heading into week 3 of trying to get my MacBook Pro airport fixed. I’ve been to the Apple Genius bar 3 times, they’ve worked on my machine twice, and after picking it up today it worked for about 2 hours then stopped.

The first time I brought it in, 2 weeks ago, they spent about half an hour at the ‘bar’ trying to figure out if it was a software or hardware issue. After decided it was hardware, they checked and by some miracle had a replacement airport in stock. I have Apple Care Pro so I left the machine with the promise of getting it back the next day.

Apple called the next day to say that they now thought it was the antennae, not the airport itself. One problem. That’s another part, and this they didn’t have in stock.

So I drove back downtown to pick up the machine since they expected it would be 10 days to get a part from California (huh ? Does Jobs drive them up here himself, on a bike? )

On Thursday (11 days later, but who’s counting) they called to say the antennae had indeed arrived. I dropped the machine off on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning (today) they called to say it was done.

Nice. Well, for 100 bucks a year you get 24 hour turn around on repairs, so they were just doing what they promised, but still, nice.

But Wait.

All excitement should be put on hold.

The wifi worked while I got mail and sent some photos up to the web site. When I came back to the machine 2 hours later, back to the flakey on/off airport reception, which is mostly off. It looks like maybe a physical connection problem – one second it’s showing 4 bars the next none.

So I’m tethered again (lan cable).

A call to the Apple Store netted a ‘…um, I’ll have a manager call you back’. Dude, I’m still waiting…

Can someone tell me, is this a normal experience at the Apple Genius Bar,


is Vancouver particularly genius challenged ?


No-one ever did call me back from the Apple Store. So I called at noon today, and just got off the phone after speaking with 3 people there.

What a nightmare.

Apparently if the Apple Genius decides a machine is working, then it doesn’t really matter what you the customer thinks since ‘we’ve run our diagnostics and it was fine’.

The upshot is that I will now be heading to the Apple store for the 4th time to see if they can actually fix my airport.

Here’s the thing – if I had a PC I’d just plug in an external wireless receiver but I can’t on the Mac, so I’m really hooped.

Maybe the Apple Genius will replace parts one at a time until they get it right ?

I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE UPDATE (july 21):

Woaw. Night and Day. I got a call this morning from one of the first people I talked to at th Apple Store, who obviously IS a genius. It was like night and day – super helpful in trying to figure out what might be going on with my machine and wanting to solve the problem. A big thumbs up to Adam at the Apple Store in Vancouver ! Still have to resolve the issue, but at least now there’s someone there willing to order parts BEFORE having me come in.

The Mac Messes Up Too

I’m about a year and a half into my Mac conversion (My name is Robert, and I’m a Windows User).

I’m crazy about my MacBook Pro, but I have to be honest, in terms of hardware and software issues, its probably been more trouble than any of my previous laptops.

First there was the battery recall. Then my “magsafe” plug burned up. I’ve also gone through 2 keyboards (not on the MacBook itself, but regular full sized and NEW Mac keyboards). And the click button on my MacBook is sticky and has been for ages now. By comparison, my old Sony Viao only suffered a battery recall, is 6 years old and still running great.

It’s true the Mac doesn’t suffer the blue screen of death. It has a much prettier version, where a multi-language notice comes up all transparent like and tells you the machine is shutting down. A crash that’s so graceful and pretty is, well, so un-crash-like.

Since updating to Leopard I’ve had a myriad of software issues. I also find that I have to institute Mac’s version of CTL-ALT-DEL pretty often, except Mac calls is ‘force quit’ and it’s, well, every so graceful as well.

For you PC users – does any of this sound familiar ?

I’m just saying.

But here’s the thing. I’ve never had warranty service as outstanding as Apple Care. When I was going to switch to Mac, my pal Loc said whatever I did, make sure to buy Apple Care.

I did, and I’ve not regretted the expense.

Why ?

Because when I call to get something fixed, they fix/replace it right away, no questions asked. And they do things fast. When I called about my burned-up magsafe plug, I received a replacement via courier THE NEXT DAY.

I’m sure there are loads of Macs that never suffer any issues. However, don’t buy the hype because I don’t think my experience is all that unusual.

The thing that’s saved the entire switch for me – Apple Care.

Leopard – not so much

Here’s my mini review. This is only after a few hours of use on the MacBook Pro and our household iMac .

1. eye candy, pure and simple. there isn’t ONE new function I really need, but it all look sweet.

2. slow baby, slow. one of the things I loved about my macbook vs. my sony vaio (PC) laptop was how fast the macbook boots. well my friend, leopard is a pig, at least on my machine, and I’ve got 4 gig of ram. maybe things will improve? but so far, my mac seems to be starting very window-esque. this might not be a big deal on a desktop machine, but in a laptop its critical. (There is a thread here about this – so I guess, just like with a windows box, I now have to start hacking my way through a NEW OS so that the machine runs properly. Hmmm, deja vu.)

3. is there a revert button on this thing?

If want you really want are a bunch of new effects in PhotoBooth, parental controls (probably easily side stepped), a different way to share machines and do backups (apple claims easier) and more things swooshing across the screen, then this is for you.

Apple Makes Record Profits, Goes Crazy with Cardboard

Its very unlike Apple. Their packaging is always super slick and impressive. Today, I got one of their new thin keyboards, ironically, shipped in a box 10 times its size.

The keyboard box itself seems to provide loads of protection for the keyboard.

When I opened up the big box, the keyboard was at the very bottom of the box, with packing piled on top.

We’re recycling the packing – it’s great kraft paper – and the box will go into the blue box tomorrow.